Monday, 16 July 2012

Oh yeah! Oh yeah!

Love the colour of this flower and must find out what it is
First of all let me get the official announcement out of the way. I am really pleased to announce that I am going to become a grandma. Ian is chuffed too about becoming a grandad. Our middle child's wife is expecting in January so I guess I had better get the knitting needles out in preparation. There is another announcement too and that is the tickets to bring our alpacas across from Sweden on the ferry have definitely been booked and the vet goes to see them on Thursday to verify they are fit to travel on Friday. Just wish it didn't mean such an early journey to pick them up, we will have to set off at something like 3 or 4am in the morning. Staying over only adds to the costs and also we have a horse box to lug around and so not so easy for parking and visiting. So hopefully by this time next week we will have them safely ensconced in the paddock that Ian has made.

As you can see we have had sunshine and showers so far
this summer
It might have been a cool summer so far but the berries, particularly the strawberries, don't seem to be bothered even if other things are rather slow like the beans. Our three plots have at least staggered their production of strawberries as we are getting bucket loads of strawberries every few days at the moment. Unfortunately the sun is not around long enough to dry our strawberries in the solar dryer and so we are having to resort back to the electric ones, of which we have two that have been going almost constantly for the last few days. I have also made strawberry jam, frozen cooked strawberries and bottled some in a light syrup for breakfast toppings, and still there is more to process. At the moment it seems a bit onerous but I don't think that we will regret it later on in the year when the gardening is finished and the snow lies thick and deep and we open an instant bottle of summer sunshine. Well we can pretend the sun shone a lot! At least we have more than in the UK. It also means that it is not quite as frustrating for Ian as he is waiting for a tractor tyre replacement and can't get on with large swathes of cutting, turning and baling but he has had enough dry weather to strim hard to cut areas and use the two-wheel tractor in other areas that the big tractor cannot cut. It's a long slow process but he is determined to get it cut and cleared this year.

One to go and one to stay!
We decided that time has nearly come to cull some of our chickens, the broiler ones and so we are planning on giving them extra feed to fatten them up over the next couple of weeks - they still feel a little scrawny under their feathers. The only problem is that there are three males and one female and we plan on keeping the female, if we had kept her in with the fellas then she would probably eat herself to death so she still needs to be on fairly restricted rations, this meant moving the female in with the smaller chickens. It was quite funny moving her in with the smaller chickens as she is almost twice the size, but at least we reckoned that moving her into their domain would lessen the chances of too many fights over the pecking order and our hunch seems to have pulled off. There were a few disputes but nothing serious. The head male seems to have laid down the law and she doesn't seem to aggressive despite her obvious size advantage. At least it gives her a chance for laying eggs and we shall see what we get from her and how long she lasts.

Hoppy is still going strong as is always the first
in for food. It is learning to hop around quite
well even in the long grass. 
I had one of those funny moments this week when you try and work out what on earth is going on! I was kind of semi-crawling under a low apple tree to pick the last of our strawberries from that particular plot and I had to lean with my fist on the ground to get to them. There was a kind of squeaking noise as if the ground itself was protesting. Now I know I am no svelte figure but I'm not that heavy. I peeled back the straw and the protestations continued but I could see nothing. I watched a little while with the protestations continuing and suddenly saw a movement, but not the thing responsible. I got a stick from the apple tree and gently prodded around, eventually unearthing a soil coloured toad from the ground - still protesting. It sat for quite a while very still before I thought the best thing I could do was walk or rather crawl away and leave the poor thing alone to recover.

A member of the pea family of which
we have many growing wild in our
We had to make a rather long trip the other day to a place called Rezekne which is two hours away as we found a firm that makes and sells natural twine for balers. It is fantastic to find a product that is actually made in Latvia and made from a sustainable source and ours is a mix of hemp and linen. I don't like seeing all the plastic twine around in fields and didn't really want it on our property if we could help it. Neither do I like the idea that we are using more plastic made from fossil fuels, although I realise that even producing the hemp/linen twine uses fossil fuels as does our travels to get the stuff. Mind you we fitted in a trip to some folks along the way that we know and so that was good to be able to catch up with someone that we don't see so often, so it wasn't just a trip for the twine. Sounds a good enough excuse to me anyway.


ju-north said...

Many congrats on your news! Your purse will never be the same again!

Joanna said...

Lol Ju, that's why they live in the UK and we don't!!!! Only joking. I am hoping to raise their sustainable expectations, so knitted jumpers using our own alpaca wool :o)

Liz Eph said...

goodness me you need a lot of skills, including chicken psychology !

Joanna said...

Lol never thought of that Liz. I shall have to add that one to my CV :o)

karen said...

amazing news!!! congratulations....I have a huge smile on my face for you!
may have some news of my own soon....shhhhhh (and no I'm not)

Joanna said...

Thank you and I can't wait to hear your news